The notoriously grumpy guy (Larry McMurtry) who wrote the greatest Western novel of all time (Lonesome Dove) has something sweet to say about my favorite city (Fort Worth).

The February issue of Texas Monthly shares an essay by McMurtry, who rates the state’s best big cities.

Not surprisingly, Fort Worth topped Dallas.


But how the hell did we lose out to that sweaty armpit Houston?

Here’s an excerpt from McMurtry’s piece:

If I were to anatomize the six major cities more or less in order of urban merit, I would now put Houston first by a large margin: it’s a great city. Next would come Austin and Fort Worth. … Dallas I haven’t enjoyed since the sixties, when I could still scout books at the Harper’s big bookshop in Deep Ellum, where my son now often performs. Dallas is a second-rate city that wishes it were first-rate.

As for McMurtry’s hometown of Archer City: I spent a week there one night.

Actually, I had a great time in Archer City at a party in somebody’s backyard a couple of years ago. After midnight, the neighbors began complaining. So the party moved to the town square, and four or five of us sat in front of a little motel and drank beer until 5 in the morning.

The police never came by. Nobody came by. I only recall a few cars passing through town in all those hours.

I’d booked a room online at the little motel, and when I showed up nobody was even working the counter. The motel owner had left a key in an envelope with my name on it, and told me to please return the key to the counter the next morning when I left.

I’d put Archer City atop my list of best small cities for that alone.




  1. Sweaty armpit, Houston? I’m puzzled by that statement. You don’t have anything nice to say about one of the most diverse cities in America? Over 100 languages are spoken. There are major area concentrates of Asian, black, mexican neighborhoods.And,there is the Westheimer area which is truly a wonderful area.And, there is the musieum district with world class museums. Also, there are world class theatre, opera, ballet, and symphonies. There is an abundance of outdoor sports including dozens of good golf courses, fishing, boating, diving. Over 20 universities, 35% of the USA refining capacity. What about the largest medical center in the world…The Texas Medical Center? More headquarters for Fortune 500 companites than anyone except NYC. Houston is a subtropical climate with green lush forests, parks, green belts. And, yet you can’t say anything nice about Houston but call it a sweaty Armpit! what a narrow, shallowminded hometowner. Oh, by the way, i’ve been to Ft Worth 3 or 4 times and find it to be a nice little cowtown. But, i agree with Mcmurtry about Dallas. Dallas is like living in a solid what house inside/outside wit mostly steel accessories….boring, sanitized, yuck! But, you seem to hate a place that puts your hometown to shame. I have lived for many years hearing how bad Houston is when in fact Hosuton is a very dynamic city and worthy of respect. Shame on you!!!

    • Houston does have great museums, art galleries, neighborhoods, clubs, restaurants, industry, and skyline. “Sweaty armpit” was a reference to the muggy summers. After all, when it’s 100 degrees with 100 percent humidity in Houston, it’s only 99 degrees with 80 percent humidity in Fort Worth. That makes us lots better. Don’t blame me for the weather. See how you Houston people are.

    • I prefer to think we’re tied for number 2 since Mcmurtry said that after Houston “next comes Austin and Fort Worth”

      We’re tied for number 2! We’re tied for number 2!

  2. I have to disagree with all ya’ll. FW lost it’s charm when the gas wells took over. It’s all down hill from now on. I’ve been spending my Sundays in Dallas just to get some fresh air. Yep, Big D now has cleaner air than FW. Plus I love Allgoods Cafe better than any food joint in Dirty Ol’ Town. But for small towns you can’t beat Marfa. It’s charms are mind boggling. For all his celebrity and coolness McMurty was never able to change Archer City. It’s still a redneck conservative backwater.

  3. Wow.. some grumpy old coot rates cities and he’s mad because Dallas has changed since the 60’s??. I live in Fort Worth and like it..okay, but I get tired of this city’s inferiority complex. It seem like Fort Worth can only claim it’s a wonderful place by trashing other cities. And I happen to like Dallas alot and I absolutely love Houston. Both are dynamic in very different ways, but way so far ahead of Fort Worth in progessiveness (and jobs), that it seem unfair to compare Fort Worth to them.

    • McMurtry a grumpy old coot? How about the greatest living Texas author? I might put San Antone or Fort Worth before Houston, but he is absolutely right on about Dallas. The people are rude, arrogant, flashy, trashy. I love Texas, but Dallas doesn’t even feel like a part of this great state.

  4. No offense to the inmates of Cowtown, but your city is dull and boring and it is like that because that is the way the people who live there want it to be. Some years ago (about five or so) I asked some folks in their 30s in some FW bars if they liked the fact that Dallas had most of the better music venues and that Fort Worthians would have to drive 30+ miles to get their music fix. The response from most: Dallas is where we go to do things and Fort Worth is where we sleep. That’s how we like it.

    You see it in FW poltics that favors being quiet and toeing the line (using the “that’s always how we do it” line whenever anyone questions things), in arts where the old trust-funders still dominate the market and push the innovative out, and in business where it is better to be a vendor that produces a part for a high tech innovation than doing the inventing. So FW is what it is. Not every city can be vibrant and progressive thinking and one that encourages thinking that is different from the norm. Not enough people think that way, and they tend to congregate in cities where there are people who are like them. FW doesn’t have enough of those people and probably never will. So the imaginative move out, and the worker bees stay and make do. Some places are suited for being places where you sleep. That’s how FW likes it.